Hornets moving toward potential sale
The New Orleans Hornets are moving toward a potential sale, with as many as eight possible buyers in the mix for a deal that would keep the team in the Crescent City.
Ownership of the Hornets was taken over by the NBA last season when majority owner George Shinn could not agree on a deal with minority owner Gary Chouest. Commissioner David Stern appointed New Orleans native Jac Sperling as chairman and charged him with improving the team’s financial condition.
Sperling, who has overseen a season-ticket drive, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that there are two or three unidentified potential buyers in addition to the four or five Stern mentioned recently.
“There are some potential owners who live in New Orleans and some who live outside of New Orleans,” Sperling said. “But all of them understand that they would be buying a team that would have a long-term lease here.”
Any new owner would have to sign a lease with the New Orleans Arena that does not include an exit clause that could be used to move the team. Shinn moved the Hornets from Charlotte to New Orleans, and the team played to bigger crowds in two seasons in Oklahoma City following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Sperling said a long-term lease would ideally coincide with new ownership. He suggested the current lockout could impact a sale but a resolution is not necessarily an impediment.